Avital Levin, LMSW, Director of Education
For me, the month of October has always symbolized positive moments: Chagim. My birthday. Apple picking. Sukkah decorations. Chol Hamoed trips. Sweater season.
Since joining Shalom Task Force, October now holds another symbolic representation of our organization’s lifeblood and mission: the commemoration of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. For some causes, the representative month or visual symbols are enough to remind the public of its impact; the pink ribbons for breast cancer awareness bring to mind associations of relatives, friends, loved ones lost or survivors celebrated.
For many people, the purple symbol for domestic violence awareness is often unfamiliar and receives minimal “air-time”. This may be because the topic of domestic violence is uncomfortable, easily relegated to the back of our minds or the recesses of our communities. By its intrinsic nature it is behind the closed doors of our homes, defined by violent or aggressive behavior typically involving power and control tactics of abuse toward a spouse or partner. It is universally pandemic; 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will experience some form of domestic abuse in their lifetime. Our work at Shalom Task Force supports the research that the prevalence in the Jewish community is nearly equivalent to that of the general population.
Over the course of this month we will fill your newsfeeds with awareness of the many facets of domestic abuse. Our request? Familiarize yourselves with the purple ribbon so that October takes on newfound meaning. “Do it for yourselves. Do it for your families.”
Practical ways for us to honor October Domestic Violence Awareness Month:
Recognize: “It happens in our community:” That’s an oldie but a goodie; the myth that domestic abuse only happens “over there.” Too often when I speak to a community leader or school administrator, they emphatically state that this problem doesn’t exist in their demographic. Sadly, this does not reconcile with the evaluation survey from a workshop participant in their own community who states: “I now recognize that this is exactly what is going on in my home - I now know I deserve better for myself.” These poignant words were never confided to the individuals claiming their non-existence.
Respond: Educate yourselves and others on the impact of domestic abuse and the ways in which to support victims and promote healthy relationships.
Check out the following educational resources:
Shalom Task Force website: http://www.shalomtaskforce.org/
“The Shame Borne in Silence,” by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski
“I’m So Confused, Am I Being Abused?” by Lisa Twerski
Recognize: “Abuse thrives in silence:” There is a shared onus of responsibility on us as a community to invite dialogue and support to those who wish to come forward. It is likely that a victim who is silently suffering will think they are alone and will feel empowered when they know that there are others who understand.
Respond: Like and Share the features, articles, and stories related to domestic violence and show your supportive comments in postings. Use this month’s official status to support this broad issue and allow others to know that they are loved through your acknowledgment and support.
Recognize: You are not alone: No matter how alone you may feel, there is somebody out there whom you can reach out to. A trained and confidential advocate will provide empathy and help you to regain your voice. You will be empowered throughout the conversation to make safe choices and and learn of available resources.
Respond: Call our Anonymous Hotline: The Shalom Task Force confidential national domestic abuse toll-free hotline is staffed by over 70 volunteer advocates. These advocates have undergone an intensive training program in addition to an internship. To best serve our callers, we have advocates who are fluent in Hebrew, Yiddish, and Spanish and culturally sensitive to the diverse facets of our community.
1-888-883-2323 (toll free)
Recognize: Power and Control are features of the domestic violence pattern that govern the relationship. The abusive partner’s ultimate goal is to control their partner and use tactics to instill fear.
Respond: Practice Respect and Equality in your Relationships: these are the dynamics of a loving relationship that we highlight in contrast to the power and control features. Become more mindful of the ways in which you can demonstrate greater respect and practice equality in your relationships. Begin by asking yourself the questions of “how does respect look?” and “how does respect feel?”
Recognize: Every Single One of You Can Help in combatting domestic violence in our midst and supporting victims. There are both direct services and preventive programming that our organization relies heavily on volunteers to provide.
Respond: Get Involved with the cause directly in various ways:
Become a Hotline Advocate, Education Presenter, Intern
Host a workshop or event in your community or home
Sponsor a workshop or event
Join the Young Leadership Initiative Board
Make a donation to support our work
Purple now has new symbolism in our lives. Join us in combatting domestic violence and bringing new meaning to your October.